Simone Manuel Becomes First Black Woman To Win Olympic Swimming Gold

2016 RIO OLYMPIC GAMES

American Simone Manuel pulled a shocking upset in the 100 free to become the first black woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.

Manuel, a heavy underdog to world record-holding Australian Cate Campbell, surged into the finish for a massive persona-best in 52.70. That time tied her with Canadian teenager Penny Oleksiak for gold.

Based on our research, that marks the first time a black woman has topped an Olympic podium in swimming.

The first black Olympic swimming medalist was the Netherlands’ Enith Brigitha, who picked up two bronze medals at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Her medals came in the 100 and 200 frees.

It wasn’t until 2004 that a female African-American swimmer won an Olympic medal. That was Maritza Correia, who won a silver medal in Athens as part of the American 4×100 free relay. Correia, now Maritza McClendon, wrote an opinion piece for SwimSwam just last year to reflect on a historic 2015 NCAA meet that saw the first-ever 1-2-3 sweep by black swimmers in an event at the NCAA Championships.

The winner of that event? Manuel herself, swimming for the Stanford Cardinal.

The first black swimmer to win an Olympic swimming gold was Anthony Nesty, who competed for the nation of Suriname in the 1980s. He won the 100 fly at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

More recently, Anthony Ervin became the first African-American swimmer to win Olympic gold, winning the 50 free in 2000. Cullen Jones followed him in that feat at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and now Manuel becomes just the 3rd overall swimmer in that exclusive group.

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Alexander
6 years ago

NOt entirely true Enith Brifitha was the first black woman to win Gold

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enith_Brigitha

Enith Sijtje Maria Brigitha (born April 15, 1955 in Willemstad, Curaçao) was a leading competitive swimmer in the 1970s. She twice represented the Netherlands twice at the Summer Olympics, starting in 1972 (Munich, West Germany). She won two bronze medals at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, in the women’s 100 m and 200 m freestyle. Brigitha twice was named ‘Dutch Sportswoman of the Year’, in 1973 and 1974. She was the first black athlete to win a swimming medal in the Olympics.[1][2]

East Germany doping controversy[edit]
In the 100m freestyle, Brigitha finished behind two swimmers… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  Alexander
6 years ago

Alexander – it is entirely true, because Enith Brigitha still does not have a gold medal. “Calls from other athletes,” unfortunately, doesn’t change the actual historical record.

tareek
6 years ago

Didn’t Brigitha get the gold after eliminating the Germans who got 1-2?

Admin
Reply to  tareek
6 years ago

tareek – none of the East German women have had their medals stripped.

Stay Human
Reply to  Braden Keith
6 years ago

Braden I’m down voting the IOC/FINA for that, not you!!

Dan
6 years ago

Ranomi Kromowidjojo isn’t of african descent?

Kirk Nelson
Reply to  Dan
6 years ago

No, she’s Dutch and Asian (Javanese).

Stay Human
Reply to  Dan
6 years ago

Maybe up to 1/4. She’s Javanese, white, and Suriname. Her paternal grandmother was Suriname

Stay Human
Reply to  Dan
6 years ago

Maybe up to 1/4. She’s Javanese, white, and Suriname. Her paternal grandmother was Suriname

Stay Human
6 years ago

In case anyone is still around:

A Brief and Incomplete (pls feel free to add to it) History of black USAmericans of African ancestry and swimming:

1600’s: British and Colonial scouts in West Africa spot and marvel at the superior swimming ability of many natives in West Africa, swimming ability eventually included in list of “desirable” qualities for slaves.

1700’s: Slaves in the colonies teach their masters and masters’ families to swim. On several occasions they are credited with saving masters’ and their families lives, from drowning. However, slaves are later barred from swimming after several attempted to escape via swimming away.

1865: Slavery abolished, but de facto, and then serially codified, apartheid takes its place, as… Read more »

Stay Human
Reply to  Stay Human
6 years ago

Oops that was 2015 for the 3 black women on the podium at NC2As, not 2014.

Stay Human
Reply to  Stay Human
6 years ago

I don’t mind the downvote, but I’d be more interested to hear your comment! 🙂

The King
6 years ago

I’m happy for Simone but why does everything these days have to be about the first black woman or whatever it is about race. It really doesn’t matter if she’s the first black woman to do it what matters is that she did fantastic and won the gold medal that she deserved

PsychoDad
6 years ago

State of Texas is proud of Simone Manual, first black woman Olympic champion in swimming. I never use term African American because it is used to segregate black people all over again. It is used to label them as not “part of us” – “us” meaning racists. Black people have advanced in America, but not near enough and racism is on the raise here. This is a moment to celebrate for all of us.

Stay Human
Reply to  PsychoDad
6 years ago

Texas is an amazing swimming state! No surprise that they produced the first black individual Olympic champion. Tanica Jamison, Jeff Commings, and I think Dax Hill were also UTX Longhorns, probably others I don’t know about.

Andromeda
6 years ago

I grew up in Maryland and swam competitively for 15 years. My sister and I were the only black swimmers on my summer team, and were two of a handful of black swimmers on my year round team. It often felt like I was participating in a sport that wasn’t meant for me and it could be incredibly demoralizing. I wish I had had a Simone Manuel to look up to. Simply knowing that someone who looked like me could be so successful in the sport would have meant the world!

For those of you commenting that her race shouldn’t matter in celebrating this win, you’re wrong. It surely matters to all the little black girls who now feel… Read more »

Over the PC
Reply to  Andromeda
6 years ago

Lets reverse the situation here-I dare say the same can be said for someone who is not black participating in football, basketball, etc.
I’m sure everyone has had a role model at one point in their life wether a family member, athelte, advocate, etc but it shouldn’t be based specifically on skin color, rather, in my opinion, the decisions and choices that role model has made.

Stay Human
Reply to  Over the PC
6 years ago

lol! Of course character is more important than skin color, but I think you’re missing a point here. Most black kid swimmers DO have mostly white role models because– there are extremely few black ones to choose from!! And that situation you described is not reversed, for one thing: Even if black athletes may dominate professional football and basketball now, there are still more white athletes than just the handful of elite/professional level black swimmers. And more importantly, white athletes in those sports didn’t have to go through a recent period growing up where they or their parents were excluded from playing fields like black swimmers were excluded from pools. Indeed, the reverse was true, but in those sports the… Read more »

Over the PC
6 years ago

Why can’t she just be labeled an “American” as she is, as we living here are. Labeling is exactly why we have the division we do. If people are so invested in inclusion, start with that. Time to start focusing on people’s accomplishments and not their race.

Phonenomal swim by Manuel. Definitely the race of the games. Congratulations on your outstanding accomplishments! Go USA!

Dawgpaddle
Reply to  Over the PC
6 years ago

When one becomes aware of ones race, one becomes a racist. That is just how it is. So we are ALL racist to a degree. Simone swam a race similar to Jason Lezak anchoring our 4 FRR when he flew past the Frenchman! Simone flew past the fading, tying up Aussie like she was standing still. A GREAT UNFORGETTABLE VICTORY. It was interesting when I was cheering Simone on to the wall….I was NOT thinking about her race. As a sportsperson, I am very proud of and happy for Simone. She is articulate, talented and encompasses what it great in Sport.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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